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The Day I Quit Playing the Lottery – I Started Thinking Big

March 9, 2012 by , co-founder | Bootcamp Lights

Think Big Baltimore Asked Kyle Benham, "As an Entrepreneur – How Do You Think Big?"

Six years ago, I was having lunch with entrepreneur and relationship author, Jess McCann. The conversation turned to the Powerball jackpot, which at the time had reached a record-high $365 million. Baltimore advertising agency I’ll never forget McCann’s statement, “I’d never want to win the lottery.”

At first, I thought she was sarcastically poking fun at how everyone would start calling -- asking for financial support. No, Jess McCann meant it; “I wouldn’t want something I didn’t earn,” she said.

For the next five years, her statement stuck with me. It was one of the most ridiculous declarations that I had ever heard.

Who wouldn’t want to win $365 million dollars?

Marketers promote the dream of winning the lottery as the solution to life’s problems. Sadly, it is false hope during these tough economic times. “We see lottery sales go up as the economy gets bad,” said Garrick Blalock, associate professor of economics at Cornell.

Today, as an entrepreneur, my mindset on winning the lottery has shifted. Now, I couldn’t agree more with McCann’s thoughts on never wanting to win $365 million dollars.

It has been one year since teaming up with US Army soldier and pilot, Robert Schapiro, to launch Bootcamp Lights. In the beginning, we had no idea how to launch a business -- let alone run one. However, we just went for it with a strong passion for using technology to engage with the community and create a new platform for targeted advertising in Baltimore.

After connecting a 36 x 8 foot digital billboard to the body of an R22 helicopter and receiving authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration -- we launched our first advertising campaign on June 22, 2011. We partnered with Scores and displayed their brand above 80,000 U2 fans at M&T Bank Stadium.

Since the Scores campaign, we have pivoted our business model four times to help successfully promote everything from a gay club to a strip club; a radio personality looking for a creative way to say “hire me” to a police department recruiting 300 new police officers. Our goal is to make advertising simple, effective, and affordable for all in Baltimore.

When building something new, it is important to realize that not everyone will understand your model. Don’t get hung up on trying to be complete, but focus on being right. When I am complete -- no one wants to listen. The best way to convince an investor is to simply shut up and show them your business.

Value in my life today comes from working hard to continually learn new techniques that will help others. When I fail, I study why I failed. When I succeed, I get fulfillment out of knowing I made something work. For me, the money is the least rewarding aspect of owning a business.

Money-driven entrepreneurs can be quick to make irrational decisions. It is vital that you listen to your customers’ needs and remain focused on your plan. Pleasing our customers will always remain my top priority. Sam Walton said it best, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Think Big Baltimore is doing some amazing work to bring entrepreneurs and investors together. Get involved and surround yourself with people who are passionate about learning. There is no better time than now to be a quality-driven entrepreneur in Baltimore.

Forbes magazine just ranked Baltimore as No. 2 in the country for high-tech jobs. Whether it’s working with a startup or launching your own company -- don’t be afraid to fail. The only failure is waiting for that elusive jackpot to unlock your future wealth.

As author, Christina Rossetti said, “Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes; work never begun.”

Now, is your time to think big, Baltimore.

What is Bootcamp Lights?

innovative billboards attached to helicopters

We have engineered a new form of targeted advertising using a custom built R22 helicopter, outfitted with a 36 x 8 foot digital billboard.

We take your message – the foundation of your advertising campaign – and we work with you to resourcefully design flight plans that will place your brand directly above your target audience in Maryland.

Advertising that gets results »

WAKA Kickball Campaign

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"Bootcamp Lights put the WAKA brand of adult social sports in front of even more potential customers. It's fun working with companies that are as into outside-the-box business ideas as we are."

-- Mike Holden, WAKA Kickball, Director of Marketing

WAKA Kickball's innovative campaign »

DJ Flounder | Not Going Away

DJ Flounder Spinning

One commuter tweeted, "@DJFlounder, even though you slowed down traffic this morning on 270, I thought that was some great advertising."

In response, Flounder wrote, "Get used to it because I am not going away."

Full story »

Police Recruitment Campaign

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"Everyone saw it and just thought it was the coolest thing. It was a great way for us to get our message out."

-- Jeremy Silbert, Baltimore Police Department

Learn more »

Building The Modern Web

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Small startup, run by Kyle Benham. Here to work with you ↔ to learn, collaborate, and build truly amazing websites that reach your target audience.

Call us today, (949) 484-5953.

A Modern Website »

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